Today I did a side by side taste test with three teas. Two of which I wholesale, and one of which was from Harney & Sons.
All three of them are in the same price range and of similar quality for reasons of terroir, picking time, picking standard, and processing quality.
Instead of brewing Gongfu Style I chose to compare these teas with less tea with longer steeping time in the way that my friend who supplied the Harney tea drinks their tea. I hope to have time to do the same comparison Gongfu Style when I have time to visit again.
The order of the pictures will be consistent according to the price of the tea with the Harney tea being straddled on either side by mine, one cheaper (left), one more costly (right). While Harney caries way more tea than I do, a bunch of it is flavored, Indian, Japanese, etc. When it comes to Chinese teas we have a much greater selection, at least in terms of wholesale items stored in China. Hopefully I'll have capital to invest in state side storage soon so that I can retail more of these for your drinking pleasure!
4 Minutes Later:
My friend, who is an avid Harney drinker, noted that the Harney tea had a characteristic boldness and body with chocolate undertones, but both of my teas had more sophisticated fragrance from the Feng Qing terroir. "It is more impressive if I were going to share with friends," she said of my higher end tea.
The lower cost option carried the strongest lid fragrance and had a complex aroma. The higher end lid fragrance was phenomenal with hints of exotic spices and vanilla. The mouthfeel on all three were similarly pleasing with the lower end option falling short of perfection, just a bit.
4 Minutes and 30 Seconds Later:
The leaf after the second steeping clearly shows the picking standard.
Whereas with Gongfu Style the second steeping is usually the strongest, brewing in this way all three teas noticed a pretty sharp fall off here. The Harney tea retained it's boldness but lost all subtlety. My cheap option also retained it's boldness much more than I expected from the color of the liquid.
5 Minutes Later:
I was surprised how well the lower end Dianhong kept flavor on the third steeping. The other two finished up basically as expected. I brewed everything a 4th time and enjoyed that, but saw no need to take more pictures.
Harney & Sons was one of the tea companies which I used as a taste reference for how to set my prices. They have a great selection of fine teas at rational prices. Side by side comparisons with reputable tea purveyors makes a good benchmark which I can use to ensure that I am well placed in the market.
While older tea companies such as Harney represent this quality of tea as the highest grade (because it is the highest grade you can find outside of China) we are excited to present this range of tea as the bottom end of what we carry.
Unfortunately, it will take some time before I can afford to carry all of my stock of wholesale teas online for retail and in my future teahouse - but we are growing quickly and are well poised to serve tea with class.
In the Dianhong Taster Flight you can try the lower end tea presented here as well as three teas of higher quality than those featured in this blog post.
The Dianhong you can buy at 50g on the site today is one of those higher end teas. :D